Council stalemate continues

Midlothian House, the main office for Midlothian Council, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith.
Midlothian House, the main office for Midlothian Council, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith.

Negotiations to establish a Labour minority administration involving all parties are still to reach an agreement.

Despite winning the Midlothian Council elections last week Labour has been left frustrated by the failure of the SNP and the Conservatives to work together. Labour indicated it would move to form a minority Labour administration, but would offer, with no preconditions or formal agreements, senior posts and membership of all committees to each of the other two parties.

The SNP accused Labour of refusing to work with them, leading to rumours that Labour had done a deal with the Conservatives.

However, Labour Group leader, Derek Milligan said: “It is clear that the priorities of the SNP and Tory councillors elected differ massively from our own. We have said from day one that we will put Midlothian and its people first, ahead of national politics. To say that the other parties are behaving like children would be unfair to children.

“As the largest party elected in Midlothian it falls to us to attempt to form an administration built around the councillors who are prepared to work for the benefit of the people of our county. At the moment that will consist solely of Labour Party councillors. “However, if councillors from the other parties decide to start acting like grown-ups, my door is always open.”

Newly elected SNP local group leader Kelly Parry said: “Labour have outright refused to discuss any deal with the SNP alone, yet leave the door open for the Tories.

“Handing power to the Tories is a slap in the face to the people of Midlothian, a community that was left decimated by the Tories and ruined for generations.

“I think there will be many people in Midlothian hoping that the Labour group would have worked constructively with the SNP, and that is exactly what we offered.

“There is no doubt now that Labour have abandoned their party principles and only the SNP will stand up to the Tories - their claim to put local issues first against party policy is shattered.

“The SNP stands ready to oppose austerity and stand up for the people of Midlothian.”

The Conservatives’ Midlothian group leader Pauline Winchester said: “At the moment we are still discussing things and we will have to see how it goes.

“What we have ruled out is working with the SNP, because as part of our election campaign we said we would stand up to the SNP.”